Regular sunglasses and polarised sunglasses, what’s the difference?

The summer sunshine is here and everyone is wearing sunglasses. We are spoilt for choice when deciding which sunglasses suits our face best. A well fitting frame with stylish design is always a priority but what about the lenses in the sunglass frame? Do you go for regular sunglass lenses or ‘polarised’ lenses? This article will shed some light on the differences and help make it easier to decide which is best for you.

As well as staying out of direct sun when possible, sunglasses are one of the best ways to protect your vision. Sunglasses work by blocking UV rays, with 100% protection being the best choice. For full protection, sunglasses should have both a high level UVA and UVB protection. Interestingly, if the lenses in your sunglasses are very dark, this doesn’t mean they have the best UV protection.

So once you’ve chosen sunglasses with 100% protection, we are often asked what is the difference between regular and polarised sunglasses?

Regular sunglasses can protect our eyes from UV rays, but they won’t diminish glare. This is why you will sometimes find yourself squinting even with sunglasses on. Imagine looking out at sea on a sunny day. If you are wearing regular sunglasses you will experience glare from the sun reflecting off the water surface. Another example is driving your car on a wet day and the sun rays are reflecting off the road surface while you are trying to concentrate on the road. These ‘reflective rays’ cause ‘glare ‘ in our vision and can be very debilitating. It can cause eye strain or fatigue, and it can also be strong enough to block your vision. Glare can vary from mild discomfort to blinding, and it can be worse with age or if you have lighter coloured eyes.


Why choose polarised lenses in your sunglasses?
Polarised lenses have a unique filter that block out intense glare caused by light reflections. Polarised lenses also offer enhanced colour perception and improved clarity. They make it much easier to see in bright light conditions.


What lifestyles do polarised lenses suit?
Polarised lenses are suitable for most people experiencing glare no matter what the outdoor activity is, whether it’s relaxing in the sun, reading a book, driving, playing sports such as tennis, golf, fishing, or snow sports. The extra visual comfort one gets from wearing polarised lenses makes it an easy choice when deciding if its worth paying a little extra for the benefits of polarised lenses.

For me, the best sunglasses on the market are Maui Jim sunglasses. Not only are they very stylish and comfortable to wear but all their sunglasses have polarised lenses in them. As an added feature they have a special colour enhancing filter embedded in the lens which brings greater colour definition and clarity to your vision. With these benefits you won’t regret buying a pair of Maui Jims!

Dr Brendan McCreesh, principal optician
Ph.D BSc MCOptom